By Susan Fisher, Muncie Public Library—
MUNCIE, IN—The public is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, August 25 at 5 p.m. to introduce a new health track at the Maring-Hunt Library in the Southside, Thomas Park/Avondale neighborhood area. The track is a quarter-mile walking trail that encircles much of the green space at Maring-Hunt Library and was made possible by a grant from the Sherman and Marjorie Zeigler Foundation.
“The Zeigler Foundation is pleased to have been able to assist the Muncie Public Library and the 8Twelve Coalition to realize their vision for the Maring-Hunt Library Gateway to Gardening project. This project has resulted in a wonderful community gathering space that will also increase visitors’ appreciation for the natural and horticultural beauty of the plantings and green spaces that lie at the heart of the installation,” said Zeigler Foundation President Richard Zeigler.
“The health track completes the vision for the green space that we created with neighborhood input, students and leaders in the BSU Immersive Learning Program, and the 8Twelve Coalition,” said Muncie Public Library Director Akilah Nosakhere. “We are extremely grateful to the Zeigler Foundation for generously making this part of the vision a reality.”
Nosakhere added, “While the community garden plots and pavilions provide for neighborhood collaboration, fresh produce, and educational events, the health track provides an outlet for healthy exercise for neighborhood residents, library employees, and customers.” Nosakhere also hopes that nearby South View Elementary will utilize the track for outdoor activities. She noted that a story walk feature will also be added soon, so walkers can read a book or story as they stop at different stations around the track.
While the health track was just recently completed, it may seem familiar to Muncie residents who attended the “old” Wilson Junior High School located at 13th and Liberty Streets. The school served students from the surrounding neighborhoods for many years beginning in 1921 and through the early 1990s. Its grounds included an athletic field and an oval running track. The Wilson Apartments and Maring-Hunt Library are housed in the renovated school buildings. “The original design for the health track was to excavate the original track, but that proved impossible to do, so a new track was dug out, leveled, and lined with gravel, sand, and compacted crushed stone that provides a durable walking surface,” said Nosakhere. Flat Lands Resources, a Muncie-based landscape architecture and design-build firm focused on community development and ecological restoration, served as the project manager.
The former outdoor athletic field is now known as the Gateway to Gardening project and it provides community garden plots, a garden pavilion, an outside kitchen, play areas with water and sand, and a Monarch butterfly way station. These projects were undertaken by Ball State University Immersive Learning Programs and were made possible through the efforts and funding of many community-minded organizations, such as the Zeigler Foundation.
Mary Lou Gentis, Manager of Maring-Hunt Library, shares the optimism for the new health track and the benefits it will provide the community, “I am excited for the opportunities the health track offers this neighborhood. Our garden area already gets lots of use and this will be one more attraction to draw residents to the space,” she said. “I envision seniors working to increase their daily steps, parents walking with strollers, and young children discovering nature and enjoying the play areas and the planned story walk,” she said.
Maring-Hunt Library is located at 2005 S. High Street. The garden and track are accessible from Liberty and 13th Streets west of the Library with free parking for library visitors. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Thursday, August 25 from 5-6 pm, with comments made at 5:15 pm. In case of rain, the event will move inside the library. For more information, visit the library website at www.munciepubliclibrary.org